Michael Lind defends white Southerners.
Back in the 1960s, Seymour Martin Lipset and Richard Hofstadter and other liberal sociologists, historians and political scientists, puzzled that anyone could support Barry Goldwater rather than Lyndon Johnson, concluded that Goldwater supporters were deranged. They didn’t say so directly, of course. They said that members of the radical right were emotionally disturbed victims of “status anxiety.” The evidence? They didn’t vote the way that Lipset and other academics thought that they should vote. Therefore they had to be crazy.
In the decades since, far better scholars than Hofstadter and Lipset, for whom history and sociology are not exercises in partisan Democratic mythmaking, have established that Goldwater and Reagan Republicans often were highly educated, socially secure individuals who happened not to share the values of liberal professors and journalists. This scholarship has been wasted, to judge by the glee with which the liberal blogosphere, in the aftermath of the ephemeral “Birther” flap, has dusted off the old conservatives-are-crazy meme, and revised it to suggest that all white Southerners are crazy.
More at Salon.